It always breaks our hearts when we see overweight or obese dogs. In our eyes, it constitutes pure neglect.
In their survey, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reports that in 2016, 54% of dogs were overweight or obese. (1)
Not surprising considering that according to the CDC, more than 36.5% of American adults are obese according to the latest data. (2)
According to the AKC, obesity in dogs is directly associated with the following diseases in dogs (3):
- Type 2 diabetes
- Osteoarthritis, especially in the hip
- High blood pressure
- Orthopedic problems, cranial cruciate ligament injuries
- Skin disease
- Thyroid problems
- Heart and Respiratory Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Some cancers
- Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)
With dogs, as in humans, overfeeding is the chief culprit when it comes to obesity, and low or no exercise is the other main contributor to overweight. (4)
In our workaholic and fast food culture, our pet s can easily suffer the consequences of our own overeating and inactivity, as this article talks about.
So what can you as a loving and responsible dog owner do to help keep your canine companion at a healthy weight?
Get out for exercise. Depending on breed, your dog needs between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise daily, and it would behoove you to read up on your breed. Who knows, you may just learn something that will help you bond better with your dog.
Getting into the habit of exercise is challenging, especially when you have a busy work life. But, knowing that your dog will live a longer, happier life and that you will benefit from your shared routine may help you get motivated.
If you can stick to a regular exercise routine for at least a month, you’ll be much more likely to stick with it and make it a lifelong habit that will benefit you and your beloved canine bestie.
You may have heard the myth that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but it’s actually much longer. In fact, according to this article, the average is at least 66 days, but sometimes can take almost a year of consistency to build a truly rock solid habit. (5)
If, due to a hectic work schedule you don’t have time to take your dog out for the recommended amount of exercise, you may want to look into a local doggy daycare center, where your dog will be able to play and socialize.
Expect to pay between $200 and $600 per month for doggy daycare according to this post on Angie’s List. (6)
Many dog food brands give the recommended portion size on the packaging. If your dog is overweight, you may want to start with the lowest recommended portion size and see how your dog responds over the course of a 3-4 week period. If she is losing weight and not lacking in energy, you’re on the right track.
If you leave your dog’s food dish full of food available to snack on all day while you are at work, you may want to rethink that strategy. Many owners feel guilty if their dog doesn’t have food available all day.
Think about it like this: in nature, animals don’t have ready access to food all day long. They have to seek it out and work for it. It should be no different for your dog. Establish a scheduled feeding time, and stick to it. Some owners feed once per day, others prefer to feed twice per day. Do what feels right for you but if you do feed twice per day, reduce the portion size so that it’s only one full portion split into two meals.
Yes, dog treats contain calories. In fact, many if not most treat brands clearly label the packaging with the number of calories per treat. These add up quickly, especially in a dog that does not exercise as much as he should, or at all.
If you feel you must give a treat for good behavior or just because, keep it to one or two, or use a non-food treat such as a special toy that only comes out for very special occasions and gets put away after it’s been enjoyed. Trust us, your highly intelligent dog knows when the special toy comes out and goes away, and will learn to appreciate it.
Get Professional Help
If your dog’s weight is not responding given time with these methods, it may be time for a visit to the vet, as something more serious such as a malfunctioning thyroid may be at play, and medication may be required.
The takeaway is this: just like you, your dog needs dietary guidance and plenty of exercise to stay happy and healthy, and it’s up to you to make sure he gets what he needs.
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“2016”. 2017. Association For Pet Obesity Prevention. Accessed November 5 2017. https://petobesityprevention.org/2016/.
“Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC”. 2017. Cdc.Gov. Accessed November 5 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.
“Dog Obesity: Why It’S Important To Keep Your Dog From Getting Fat”. 2017. American Kennel Club. Accessed November 5 2017. http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/fat-dogs-and-dog-obesity/.
“Pet Obesity Correlated With Human Obesity, Vet Says”. 2013. Petfoodindustry.Com. Accessed November 5 2017. http://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/3637-pet-obesity-correlated-with-human-obesity-vet-says.
“How Long Does It Actually Take To Form A New Habit? Backed By Science.”. 2014. James Clear. Accessed November 5 2017. https://jamesclear.com/new-habit.
- “How Much Does Doggy Day Care Cost?”. 2013. Angie's List | Join For FREE To See 10 Million Verified Reviews. Accessed November 5 2017. https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-doggy-day-care-cost.htm.
Disclaimer: Advice given on the Things Bella Likes blog is not to be construed as medical advice, as we are not licensed or unlicensed veterinarians. Always do your own research, and consult with your veterinarian for medical advice relating to your pet.